Mljet Island and National Park Mljet are one of the most attractive and interesting cultural-historical pearls of Mediterranean, which makes it an attractive holidays destination. It is popular amongst couples, lovers and explorers of nature, lovers on traces of the historical stories and legends, and explorers of ancient cultural and historical monuments.
Mljet island lies south of the Pelješac peninsula, from which it is divided by the Mljet Channel. Its length is 37 kilometres (23 mi); its average breadth of 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi). It is of volcanic origin, with numerous chasms and gorges, of which the longest, the Babino Polje, connects the north and south of the island. Port Polače, the principal harbour in the north, is a port of call for tourist ferries. Mljet contains one hotel – The Odisej (from the Greek Odysseus) in the north-west corner of the island.
The island of Mljet, located on the southwest of Dubrovnik, is the first larger island one come upon while sailing the Croatian Adriatic from the direction from south to north. Also, is the largest island in Dubrovnik archipelago. Although this Mljet island is famous for its national park Mljet, and also as being one of the last habitats of Mediterranean monk seal, which is a protected species, the whole island is covered with beautiful and aromatic pine and Mediterranean oak trees, and, as such, is the greenest island of the Adriatic sea, and, thus, is also known as the “green island”.
Mljet island is well known for its rich cultural and natural heritage. According to the descriptions in Homers epic tale of The Odyssey, many explorers and experts consider Mljet to be the island of Ogygia – the beautiful island where the nymph Calypso held Odysseus for 7 years. The name of the island itself speaks of its beauty, which is derived from the Greek word “melite nesos” which means „honey island“.
National Park Mljet was declared as such in the year 1960, and encompasses the west part of the island of Mljet. The main factors in declaring the island as a national park is the rare and intended coast and the dense flora, specifically the forested area on the south side of the island, which creates two lakes on the island. Although the water is salty, the landscape looks like lakes. They are rich with many seashells (mussels, oysters etc), and the plankton of the island have been the study of multiple scientific researches.
On the south side of the Large Island is a small islet named St. Maria which has an ancient Benedictine abbey and a church which dates back to the 12 century. Today’s two storey structure of the abbey is in the Renaissance style of which two sides border the courtyard. On the southeast corner a defence tower was built, so all the structures on the islet (including the church) create a defence mechanism as a whole. Today as part of the abbey, there is also a restaurant that is worth visiting.
This island is well known far and wide for its southern sorts of white and red wine, which receive a special flavour and aroma from the sun and the specific Mljet soil. The island is also well known for its goat’s cheese and honey (Melita and Meleda are ancient names for Mljet, both coming from the word mel – honey) which, in the past, was served in emperor’s courts, and mostly for the warmness with which the islanders greet visitors to their island. Many small farmers on Mljet have a few goats by their homes and their cheese is all homemade. Their goats get the best possible food, naturally grown on the island.